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Culture & Religion

Judith Light On “Who’s the Boss?” and Activism

Actor and activist Judith Light, who has played a wide variety of major roles on and off the screen over the past three decades says that preparing for a role can be a drawn-out process for her. Sometimes a role will begin to click for her “when I put on the shoes or the costume or the wig or the something. Something happens for me.” Other times her connection to the part comes from hours of research or a conversation with her manager.

In her Big Think interview, Light talks at length about her career path, from relocating to New York City only to realize that she wasn’t getting parts, to begrudgingly auditioning for the role of an understudy in a soap opera. As a young actor, Light admits she wasn’t sure how to deal with not getting what she wanted. The 1970s were “part temper tantrum and part existential crisis,” she says. 

Light also speaks about what it’s like to be an activist for the LGBT community, and about what it was like to help former cast mate Danny Pintauro come out of the closet. When Pintauro found out that the tabloids were going to “out” him, Light convinced him to make his sexuality public on his own terms. “It gave him a kind of freedom that he didn’t have before, so yes, I think it’s very, very important that a person live their truth and be who they are,” she says.  Light also touches on television’s contribution to the LGBT equality movement, and how her role as Ryan White’s mother in “The Ryan White Story” inspired her to become involved with the cause.

Light also looks back fondly on her time at “Who’s the Boss?”  She admits that originally she turned her nose up at the prospect of being on a sitcom. “I was prejudiced,” she says. “I looked down at the material. I thought I only want to do feature films and theater. That’s all I’m going to do. But when you are getting guidance from the universe and you listen to it, it changes your life in ways that are magical and it did that for me.”


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